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'I won't forget': Iraqi family recalls how ISIS chopped off brothers' hands

Dec. 13, 2016: Azad Hassan (second right) and his brother Mohammad, whose hands were chopped off by Islamic State militants, stand beside their wounded father in a house south of Mosul, Iraq.

Dec. 13, 2016: Azad Hassan (second right) and his brother Mohammad, whose hands were chopped off by Islamic State militants, stand beside their wounded father in a house south of Mosul, Iraq.  (Reuters)

A 21-year-old Iraqi man freed from Islamic State rule says he is holding onto video footage of bloodthirsty militants publicly chopping off his hand, in the hopes of finding justice someday.

Azad Hassan, now living on his family’s farm in the village of Al-Dhibaniyah, just outside the city, says he first had to watch ISIS militants chop the hand off his brother before his turn came.

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"As long as I live I won't forget that moment they cut off my brother's hand," Hassan told Reuters. "Then they tied down my hand. They had to hit it twice to cut it off. I wanted the ground to open up."

A dispute over flour brought the brothers in front of an ISIS court in Mosul more than a year ago. Working in the family’s business, the two brothers sold flour to a baker who was loyal to the militants. But when the baker refused to pay up, the brothers snuck into the business to steal flour back, and were later detained and accused of theft.

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One of their other brothers disappeared in the months before, with a document given to the family saying he was shot over suspicion of working for the Iraqi army.

Hassan told Reuters that he still carries a video of the amputation on a small USB stick, hoping to use it one day against the terror group. Iraqi’s army has been engaged in a nine-week-old U.S.-backed campaign to wrestle control of Mosul back from ISIS, and have retaken about a quarter of the city so far.

Both men are now out of work and are looking for artificial limbs.

"They cut the hands of two of my sons, and my third son they took him - Daesh hurt my family badly," said their father, Hussein. "We are all Iraqi, all the same people. I don't know why they did this to us."

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